BP is teaming the firm, Verenium, on commercializing cellulosic ethanol, as announced here. But it turns out that Verenium has been getting big bucks from us, the taxpayers (they list DOE grants of $4.6 million in 2007 and $40 million in 2008, and a pending DOE loan, as well).

Verenium claims in a fact sheet (pdf here) that it is using “using proprietary technologies and world-class expertise” in developing cellulosic ethanol. But if those technologies are being developed with our money, ought not the results be shared with us (and the world)?

I’d like to know if these grants involve the our retaining some level of ownership of the developments we fund through research. I’m not against firms like Verenium making a buck, but there have to be some limits.

(Not that this particular effort is necessarily going to succeed. Cellulosic ethanol is still very much in research stages, as evidenced by the fact that they can’t get up and going on their own, needing government grants to move along.)


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